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Qantas to deploy Dreamliner on Sydney-San Francisco

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 7, 2019
Qantas will fly the Boeing 787-9 to San Francisco from December 2019. (Seth Jaworski)
Qantas will fly the Boeing 787-9 to San Francisco from December 2019. (Seth Jaworski)

Qantas will end Boeing 747-400/400ER flights to the United States mainland in December 2019 when it switches the Sydney-San Francisco route to the 787-9 Dreamliner.

Currently, the airline serves San Francisco six times a week with 747-400/400ER equipment from its Sydney hub, according to schedules on the Qantas website.

However, Qantas announced on Tuesday the 747 would be replaced by a daily 787-9 service on the QF73/74 rotation from December 4 2019.

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The change of gauge represented a 24 per cent reduction in available seats per week on the route – 2,184 one-way seats per week with the 747 versus 1,652 one-way seats per week with the 787-9 – given the next-generation 787-9 had 128 fewer seats than the evergreen 747.

The bulk of Qantas’s 747-400/400ER fleet have 364 seats in a three-class layout (58 in business, 36 in premium economy and 270 in economy). Meanwhile, Qantas’s 787-9 had 236 seats (42 in business, 28 in premium economy and 166 in economy).

Qantas international acting chief executive Naren Kumar said the 787-9 was the “most comfortable aircraft” in the fleet given its had the airline’s latest cabin products and features designed to reduce the impact of jetlag.

“Customer feedback on the cabin environment, from the seats to the anti-jetlag measures, continues to exceed our expectations,” Kumar said in a statement.

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Qantas cabin crew hanging off a San Francisco trolley. (Qantas)
Qantas resumed nonstop Sydney-San Francisco flights in December 2015 after a four-year absence on the route. (Qantas)
Qantas flight QF73 operated by Boeing 747-400ER VH-OEG at San Francisco. (SFO Airport/Instagram)
Qantas flight QF73 operated by Boeing 747-400ER VH-OEG at San Francisco. (SFO Airport/Instagram)

The Qantas fleet of eight 787-9s currently serve the following international routes – Brisbane-Hong Kong, Brisbane-Los Angeles, Los Angeles-New York JFK, Melbourne-Hong Kong, Melbourne-Los Angeles, Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow, Melbourne-San Francisco and Sydney-Hong Kong.

The 787-9 fleet will increase to 14 with the arrival of six more 787-9s due between October 2019 and the end of 2020.

The additional Dreamliners will enable Qantas to retire its 747 fleet by the end of 2020, when the airline celebrates its centenary.

Currently, Qantas has eight 747s left in service, comprising six GE-powered 747-438ERs (VH-OEE thru OEJ) delivered between 2002 and 2003, a single GE-powered 747-48E (VH‑OEB, built for Asiana in 1993 and acquired by Qantas in 1998) and one Rolls-Royce-powered 747-438s (VH-OJU) delivered in the 1999-2000 timeframe.

Qantas announced in May 2018 all 747s would be retired by the time the airline celebrated its centenary in 2020.

The most recent 747 withdrawal was in February 2019, when Qantas sent VH-OJS to the Mojave Desert after operating its last commercial flight from Sydney to San Francisco.

While Qantas will end 747 passenger flights between Australia and the US mainland from December 2019, the airline does use the type on the Sydney-Honolulu route, as well as a seasonal Sydney-Vancouver service that has been flown in recent years.


VIDEO: A look at the retirement of Qantas Boeing 747-400 VH-OJM in August 2017 from the airline’s YouTube channel.

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9 Comments

  • John

    says:

    128 fewer seats…. sounds like progress?

    • Ben

      says:

      John, I’d say the fuel burn reduction would more than pay for that reduction in seating.

  • Red Cee

    says:

    I imagine with the fewer seats on offer, they may increase MEL to SFO when the third 787 arrives. Following SFO, will Japan be the next to loose the 747?

    • Patrick

      says:

      Haneda is still rostered for the 744 as far into next year, but Honolulu will lose the 747 for an A330-200 after the 744’s last flight on the 29th of August. JNB, SCL and YVR remain 747 services as far as I can see.

    • Lechuga

      says:

      I feel Santiago will lose it before Tokyo. LATAM will do it non stop with the 787 soon, so it’s definitely possible. ETOPs the only thing keeping the Johannesburg route from being a 787 too. If anything, routes like Tokyo and Hong Kong will be A380s. Where they get the A380s from is another question.

  • Lechuga

    says:

    Does this mean the QF-49/50 from Melbourne will likely be upguaged to daily? For the connecting passengers from SA, WA and the other states at least. Axing the QF 95/96 at least temporarily.

  • James

    says:

    The QF49/50 service from MEL to SFO will remain at four services per week according to the QANTAS news release.

  • Craigy

    says:

    Qantas have announced another B744 will leave the fleet before the end of June. I am guessing OJU will go as it is the last RR powered aircraft in the fleet

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Yes, that was included in a story published on Thursday on Qantas’s latest trading update. Thank you for reading Craigy.

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